So we're in Athens, Greece for the one and only Roxie 77 show of 2006.. So how did it go?
The Underworld club is a small club in the center of Athens that seems to specialize in rock shows with a fetish club afterwards. To this end it's decorated outside rather like a post-apocolyptic bomb shelter but when you get inside it's a nice size club holding around 500 with various creepy decorative effects including their own replica electric chair! The stage is small but adequate, but the sound system seems very good and set at a good volume so you could hear the music without it distorting. Beer costs a little more then average but then that's not unusual at a club.
Roxie 77 for this show were Ryan on guitar and vocals along with local band Gennesis backing him up. The band set up first before before Roxie makes his entrance through the small door beside the drums, dressed in black and carrying his well known silver glitter guitar as seen on many Alice Cooper shows. After a brief 'hello' they kick off with 'Bustin' Out', the opening track on the Roxie 77 masterpiece 'Peace Love & Armageddon'. Now, if you want an unbiased review.. this isn't the place to find it. I'm biased. I love Roxie's work and 'P,L & A' is quite simply a brilliant album. It's why we traveled across Europe to see the show, to see how the songs held up live. Well, it's without much surprise that I can report that they sound just as good if not better on stage. Considering the band hadn't played the songs live before with Roxie they nail them. Gennesis vocalist 'Curious' George was well used to help recreate the harmony/backing vocals of the album and guitarist 'Kill' Bill is a great musician in his own right. 'Dennis the Menace' hammered away at the drums and Tackis (the man with no nickname) held up stage left on bass. With talented musicians playing the songs accurately Roxie had it made.
'My Girlfriends Girlfriend' follows. Great song. Great performance. Ryan is not only a great guitarist (we should all know that by now) but also has a excellent voice which perfectly suits his songs. He looks every inch the rockstar up there in black leather and cheeky smile.
It's likely a proportion of the good sized crowd were there for one reason, Alice Cooper's guitarist. Not one to disappoint them next up he wheels out 'No More Mr Nice Guy' at which point I would think any doubters in the house were converted. The roar that went up should have made Roxie's trip from Sweden worthwhile on it's own. The band recreate the classic with ease while the Sickthings down the front sing the words with them. Alice would have been proud.
The next track for me was the real surprise of the set. 'When You See God' has only been previously heard, as far as I know, on one of the Roxie podcasts from last year. A quiet Hendrix flavoured guitar motif with poignant lyrics, it shows how good a song-crafter Ryan is, And just to ram the point home this moves into what is probably the best known R77 song, 'Second Chances'. It sounds fantastic. How Roxie isn't HUGE is a mystery.
After the quiet comes the storm and they hit into 'Eighteen'. Again the crowd goes nuts singing along. Camera's flash from all directions adding to rather limited light show (if you have pics from the show feel free to send them through!). Some may question Ryan's choice of AC material, being that it's material he didn't write or play on originally, but you can't deny the effect it has when the classic and oh so familiar riffs appear. Personally I think it would have been nice to have something from 'Dirty Diamonds' or 'Eyes...' in the set but, with limited time to rehearse and play, the classics were probably the best choice. There were certainly no complaints on the night!
After teasing us with the riffs of 'Brutal Planet' and a couple of others we're back to 'P.L. & A' for a final selection, the funk rock of 'Beat 'Em', which comes across heavier live then on album. Oh to see a whole set of Roxie songs...
Stage time is running out, so just in case there's anyone in the room that isn't yet paying full attention it's time for the slam dunk. Yes, it's the song he probably had to play, 'School's Out'. Ironically it's the one song that they have problems with. Maybe someone is just having a little too much fun up there (judging from the smiles) but there are a few mistakes with the band losing track where they are in the song a couple of times, but to be honest it really doesn't matter as the assembled crowd are singing every word with them. It's party time in Athens.
Time for just one more, but how do you follow one of the most classic rock songs of all time, well why not with another and Roxie 77 reel off the riff that reconquered the world for ol' black eyes back in '89. We're all 'Poison' again. It says much for Ryan's role with Alice for the last 10 years that he can make these songs sound as good as if he HAD written and sung them himself. The guys from opening band 'Wild Machine' are invited onstage and everyone sings together. A great finish to great show.
Afterwards we tell Ryan how good it was, and he nods, and says "thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it". He knows he's good, and I get the feeling he knows there's even better to come....
But the night isn't over yet!! Closing the show is Roxie's old roomie, Johnnie Holiday and Star Star with their 'Rock Trash Glitter Punk Gutter Goth' show. Originally from Los Angeles but now residing in Athens (via NYC), Johnnie, Weeds and Chris know the score and how to put on a good show, and the Athens fans know how to have fun. I'm not previously familiar with the band before the announcement of this show but it sounded to me like a prime time glam punk rock show! Johnnie knows how to handle the audience and bassist Weeds is a sticking figure to his left, all dreads and attitude.
Opening with 'Whore Whore' the band ran through their set with style. The energy never let up for a moment as the band, augmented by singer Elaine, piled through a tight set, lighting up the stage to the obvious joy of the local faithful.
We both enjoyed their set greatly and certainly recommend checking out their MySpace where you can discover more and hear samples from their albums. Johnnie and the band were wonderful hosts and we certainly wouldn`t miss an opportunity to see them again. Thanks guys... YOU ROCK!!
Check out the Gallery section for more photos from the show!!